Planning for a great day hike but have no idea about what to pack; no worries, we here bring help! To enjoy the great outdoors, you have to pack up the essentials. But there is no room for extra pounds to weigh down on the trails. Yes, it is a challenge and here we cover the best day hike checklist to leave you well prepared for what comes to pass on the trail.
- Hiking backpack
- Clothing for weather
- Hiking boots or shoes
- Hiking Poles
- Food sufficiently for the hike
- Plenty of water
- Navigation tools- map and compass
- First-aid kit
- Knife or multi-tool
- Camping lighter and a firestarter
- Emergency shelter
- Extras and personal items
It is so delightful to explore nature through a day hike. How far it is to hike, what is the weather there, how many of you are in the team, everything needs to be counted before you head to. And we are here to make it easy with a day hike checklist to ensure you never going to miss the most essential gear while your day hike.
A reliable backpack is a prime piece of gear that you need in a day hike. No day hike going is completed without a hiking backpack as in which you are going to take all your essentials for the day.
For a short and simple day hike, a backpack that can hold up to 11 to 20 liters of gear is suitable and for a trek, you will need a bigger one to store more clothes, food, water, and more gear as required.
Even for a short and simple day hike, you will need essential gear to stay comfortable, warm, dry, and safe. There, choosing a hiking backpack to pack all your gear is essential, and look for a breathable, small, and lightweight model. Never choose a backpack that makes you feel like holding you back in the hills. Have the right model to carry all your essentials at the same time being sturdy enough.
Clothing for weather
Nothing is better than feeling comfortable throughout the hike and you have to be well prepared with weather-appropriate clothing. Before you dress for the hike make sure you check the weather forecast. And pack extra for any changeable weather as there can be times you get caught in rain.
You have to pack for possible harsh weather by packing a hiking rain jacket and pants. They will be perfect for rain as well as for windy conditions like at Joshua Tree National Park. And depending on the weather save some space for the following in your gear pack.
- Moisture-wicking underwear and T-shirt
- Fast-drying hiking pants and shorts
- Long-sleeve shirt (to prevent from sun burns and bugs attacks)
- Down or synthetic jacket (lightweight)
Regardless of the weather forecast, pack some extra clothes for your day hike. And make sure you avoid packing up cotton clothes that may take too long to dry. Instead have synthetic, fast-drying layers.
Hiking boots or shoes
Footwear is another important consideration to enjoy a comfortable day hike. And here decide what to wear thinking about the terrain. For simple, gentle hikes on easily manageable trails, you can wear either hiking shoes or trail runners. But on rocky treks or rugged trails, you will need the support of boots.
And of course, have synthetic or wool socks in your day hike. Regardless you are going just going in the woods or a long way in the rugged trail; pack some extra pairs of socks to do better on the trails.
Even if hiking poles are more said with backpacking, they are great to have in your day hike checklist. As day hikes can be hard on knees as you move through the mountains, having a pair of hiking poles can bring sufficient support throughout. They will drop down the overall impact on knees and will let you easily hike throughout the day.
You can find the hiking poles lightweight and highly packable and will not find any trouble to have them attached to your gear pack when they are not in use on the trails.
Food sufficiently for the hike
Food is essential in your day hike checklist and you need to pack as needed to stay supported during your hike. Especially in a day hike, you are spending your energy a little too much and you will need some extra food to be active on the trail.
Eating between 300-400 calories per hiking day is recommended in general and that will vary on different body types and levels of activity. Pack up some delicious and food with high energy like energy bars, cheese, nuts, and dried fruit that can offer high nutrition and calories at the same time keeping weight minimal. And if you have some other trail food ideas, foods like sandwiches and Snickers bars will too work with the lowest cost.
Plenty of water
Water is essential on the trails will support staying hydrated while hiking. This is really important if you are going to dry environments like Zion National Park or Death Valley where hydration is a super key factor to consider.
In general, for a day, start with two liters of water per person. But this should be changed depending on the size and intensity of your hike, weather settings of where you go, age, body type, and sweat rate like things.
Navigation tools- map and compass
A proper map and a reliable compass are two navigation support that you should definitely take on your day hike checklist. They are really reliable in use as they never run out of power and are lightweight and compact, they do not let you mess with weight.
To ensure you are not getting lost on your way, these are essentials and will let you navigate your way quickly. But the best navigation tools come when you know how to use them properly. Before you head to your next day hike, go over how to use the compass and the map of the area correctly. Keep your map in a waterproof map sack
When it comes to navigation, GPS devices, and some camping apps are excellent complimentary options to maps and compass. If you are planning to use them throughout the hike, make sure you have a reliable portable power bank to keep your devices working. But remember not to use them to replace maps and compasses as they are essentials.
No one should go on a day hike without having a comprehensive first aid kit like with any other outdoor plan. Even if you think you will never have to use it, it is a must to have it on your pack. You will never feel it vital until you need it the greatest.
You can now find pre-packed camping first aid kits in the market including basic supplies and being lightweight and compact. With trail experience, you can plan on what to add to the kit and what should not. And always remember to refill anything you used on the trail soon once you are returned home.
Knife or multi-tool
Never hit the trail without a trusty knife in hand!
With that said, we find knives as the most versatile components when you are outdoors and can be beneficial in multiple ways. From chopping sticks to repairing some gear, knives are greatly useful.
For better convenience, you can add a multi-tool in your backpack which includes a knife with some more useful tools. That will come compact and can be a great addition to your day hike checklist.
Most of the ones may not be planning to be there on the trek after dark but a reliable camping headlamp can be a great addition in the pack and probably will receive thanks. A headlamp is small camping gear, lightweight and low-priced.
In any hike, you get experiences more than expected and that includes time. Hikes may take longer than you expected and that can be up to daylight fading. There, you have to be prepared with light to get back home safely. Camping headlamps are in varied types by today and you will find them quite useful as a standby light source. Have headlamp barriers fully charged and have them on your pack.
Camping lighter and a firestarter
It is a great camping skill to know how to start a fire in bad weather and that can be a lifesaving solution in some emergencies. To make that easier, you should have a trusty lighter and Firestarters.
Make sure you pack a fine camping lighter that is stormproof and waterproof as additional support at the same time with some reliable firestarters. If you are camping on a budget, you can try some homemade fire starters for cheaper and at ease.
For anyone on a backpacking trip for more than a single day, a tent is a key gear should pack in. But will you need shelter in your day hike?
From my point of view, an emergency shelter in a day hike is kind of essential and I recommend adding a smaller, lightweight, and compact emergency shelter model in your day hike. In case if someone needs a good rest, is found not well, or got to spend the night outside, this emergency shelter will come super useful saving you from many troubles. You can try bivy sacks or emergency blankets without complaints about weight.
Extras and personal items
Together with everything above, there can be some more items you will feel essential as to personal preferences. We here bring you some must-have extra items and things for personal use.
- Hats or caps
- Lip balm
- Body wipes
- Bug repellant
- Toilet paper and a trowel
- Bear spray (if you are going into the bear country)
- Emergency communication devices
- A repair kit (include duct tape and paracords)
- Whistle for emergencies
- Winter traction devices and gaiters (consider the climatic conditions)
We hope we have covered everything that you need to hit the trail for a day; so, go adventure!